The Lumberjacks boys finished eighth overall and senior Isaac Boedigheimer came in sixth place, diving to his best finish ever. Cloquet senior Anja Maijala made her final run in Northfield, clocking a seasonal-best time of 19:23.5 in the girls field. Cloquet eighth-grader Lauren Cawcutt clocked a 20:37.8 in her inaugural state trip, good for 112th place.
Moose Lake cross country runner Ethan Olson, in his third consecutive state appearance representing the small Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum cooperative program, was just over five seconds behind state champion Declan Dahlberg. In the girls' field Saturday, Carlton senior Erika Fox finished her final state meet in 26th place, topping the list of county participants.
The Lumberjacks scored a thrilling 41-27 victory over Princeton in the Section 7AAAA final last week at Chisago Lakes High School. Cloquet now faces Benilde-St. Margaret's (7-3) in a Class AAAA state quarterfinal Friday at 7 p.m. on the same Chisago Lakes artificial turf where they tore up the Tigers for 359 rushing yards and all six of their touchdowns on the ground last week.
Fox finished officially at 19:52.9. Along with winning team Proctor at 91 points and runner-up Ely at 103, Carlton County state qualifiers with Fox included: ML-WR's Savannah Gamst (fifth) in 20:10.3, Carlton's Brittny Hillstrom (10th) in 20:42.1 and Taina Koivisto of the South Ridge-North Woods-Northeast Range cooperative, taking the last individual slot in 11th at 20:45.6.
"School has gone by so slowly," said Boedigheimer, making a fourth state trip in a row to finish his high school tenure. "Every minute that passes is another minute closer to us being in that moment. I still can't believe we did this. I'm still trying to process it."
"We're taking things one game at a time," said Hoeffling. "But I've always been told to mentally prepare ahead of things, just in case we see Cook County again. I really hope we do.
Cardinal quarterback Zion Smith has thrown 25 touchdowns this fall without an interception, while he is also on a first-team defense that hasn't given up a single touchdown as of yet.
With Halloween looming, Saturday’s prep football semifinals are scary similar to last year’s matchups during this time of autumn. In Section 7AAAA, Cloquet clashes with North Branch, two teams that tangoed in last season’s opening round, while in 7AAA, Esko (2-7) will be put the test at state-ranked Proctor (7-1) — a rematch of last year’s final.
Seeking an upset, sixth-seed North Branch applied pressure to the third-seeded Lumberjacks in an effective fashion, using a defensive trap to trigger offensive opportunities. Perhaps the propeller to their attack was their often out-of-net goalkeeper, who swept up constant would-be chances by the hosts.
"It's sad my career is over, but we're all like a family and have a sense of belonging here," said Boder, who will hang onto cleats, gloves and patented pink jersey for what he called "old-man" soccer league on Sunday evenings in town. "This is my number one sport, but at the end of the day, it's just a game. Life goes on. That's just how the cookie crumbles."